Monthly Archives: November 2010

Humpback whale watching tours in Ecuador

To see a humpback whale up close; all that power and grace as it jumps out of the water is an unforgettable experience.

From June to September, the coast of Ecuador offeres some of the best whale watching experiences in Soouth America.

The story of why the humpback whales are there in the first place is just as amazing.

From their feeding frounds in the Antarctic, these amazing whales travel the 6, 000 miles to the warmer, shallow waters of the Bahia Cantagallo on the coast of Ecuador.

Why? Well, the shallow waters make a safer place for breeding and, around 11 months later, for the fragile baby whales to be born.

This is a beautiful pattern of migration and breeding which continues throughout the whales’ 60 year lifespan; every 2 years or so they eat up and make the long journey to balmy Ecuador to procreate.

In the months of July-August in particular, visitors have an excellent chance of seeing these whales up close on a whale watching tour from Puerto Lopez.

Humpback whales are friendly, curious creatures who are known to follow alongside boats checking out you as much as you are observing them. You are likely to see lot sof ‘tail lobbing’; raising flukes (tails) and slapping them on the surface of the water. Humpback whales are also very acrobatic and throw themselves completely out of the water with abandon.

In Bahia Cantagallo, you might have as many as 10 males all trying to attract the attention of just one female; so showing off and jumping are virtually guaranteed.

A great way to see these whales following alongside your boat is as part of a trip to Isla del Plata. Know as ‘The Por Man’s Galapagos Islands’, this protected island shows many of the characteristics of its more famous cousins. Isla de la Plata is the home of blue-footed and masked boobies, frigate birds, pelicans, giant albatross and breeding turtels.

Frigate birds

Frigate birds


Karen on Isla de Plata

Karen on Isla de Plata

The Poor Man's Galapagos

The Poor Man's Galapagos


Dolphins

Dolphins

Snorkelling with the fish

Snorkelling with the fish

5 Reasons to Visit Panama in 2011

1.        Pirates.

Henry Morgan

Henry Morgan

Where did all that Inca gold go?  To Portobelo, Panama.

Set between the Carribean coast and thick jungle,  the town of Portabelo was chosen for its strategically defensive position.  That didn’t stop it being ridiculously attractive to pirates who peppered the history of Portabelo with attacks for two hundred years until 1761,  when pirate Henry Morgan totally sacked the place.  Though Portabelo itself is no beauty, there are still enough remains of forts and the city’s past to relive the days of the pirates.  Hharrr!

2.       Parque de Amistad:

A huge, spectacularly varied park straddling Costa Rica and Panama.  From jungly, damp cloud forest to shrubby paramo above 3200m the diversity and strategic importance of the park is what makes it a UNESCO World Heritage site.  There is a huge range of flora and fauna such as tapirs, jaguar and puma, quetzal and harpy eagle, spider and howler monkey.  Much of the park is not accessible but around centers like Volcan and Changuinola there is  ample opportunity to hike, ride or otherwise explore the park.

3.       The Bridge of Life Museum.

The Bridge of Life Museum, Panama

The Bridge of Life Museum

The Bridge here being the bridge between the two American continents, the bridge between two oceans and the bridge between the environment, people, the arts and science: all represented in this innovative new museum to be opened in Sept 2011.  Frank Ghery who also brought us the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, has designed a collection of colorful pavilions,  together representing the forces of nature at work.  The museum will be a spectacular, interactive space surrounded by landscaped gardens and set on Amador Causeway.  Although the museum is not open yet, you can join the likes of Al Gore, Angelina Joley and Brad Pitt and sign up for one of the museum’s Friday talks and tours of the work in progress.

4.       Bocas del Toro Archipelago

Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro

A collection of beautiful islands set in azure blue waters; with coral reefs, white sandy beaches, a laid-back Caribbean vibe, and there’s even a few surf breaks.  What more could you ask for?  Even the main town of Boca is still fairly laid back: though this won’t continue once the secret of the Bocas del Toro paradise gets out.

5.       Panama Canal

A massive project that has changed the face of world trade, the Panama Canal is surely a wonder of modern engineering.  Thousands died of diseases in the building of this cut through the Isthmus of Panama,  to this day it transports 4% of all goods traded in the world, and it is still being enlarged.   You can take a trip through the six locks that lift huge container ships 85 feet (25.9m) up over the Continental Divide and down into the ocean on the other side.   The canal surely defines Panama and its people and is a must-see in Latin America.

Short Hikes Around Cuenca: Giron Waterfalls

Waterfall through the trees

Giron Waterfall on the lower level

There are plently of short day trips and hikes in the countryside around Cuenca, Ecuador.

One place you can visit is Giron for beautiful cascades falling in different levels in the hills above the town.

Looking down on Giron Waterfall

Looking down on Giron Waterfall

You can easily visit the first waterfall in a 10 minute walk from the entrance.  The second level of waterfalls is a 2-3 hour walk up above.  Walk through farmland and small sections of forest with lovely views of the valley.

Lower waterfall

Lower waterfall

Entrance $2 for foreigners and $1 for locals.  Waterfalls are run by the community and there is a small shop, restaurants, some basic acommodations and an area for camping near the entrance.

The Second Falls

The Second Falls

Into Latin America Launch Multisport Activity Vacations in Peru

Steph on mountain bike

Our own Steph mountain biking down to the hot springs on her birthday,

Stunning though Machu Picchu is, we at Into Latin America feel that Peru has a lot more to offer.  Phenomenal natural beauty, amazing evidence of different ancient cultures,  and friendly local people with fascinating customs.   We have put together a fabulous multisports tour that is very active, very cultural and full of the very best of Peru.

Paragliding over the Pacific

Jump off a cliff

Begin the tour by jumping  off a cliff above the Pacific and finish by hiking a fabulous alternative Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.  On this really alternative tour, kayak on Lake Titikaka, the highest navigable lake in the world, spend  time with the locals,  hike to dizzying heights of 4, 800 meters and mountain bike to some really hot, hot springs.

All the activities on this adventure tour are moderate.  Anyone who is moderately fit can do all the activities;no previous experience needed.